Last Bathroom Tale for A While

Neabsco Historic Marker "I can't imagine why I keep doing this," Izzy said.

"You're as fascinated by historic markers as I am," I told him.

"I feel like some kind of bleeding trainspotter," he said. "You dragged me all the way down to some rest area in Virginia --"

"It is a bit far from home," I allowed.

"--And you won't even let me use the restrooms," he ended in a huff.

"We have to think of a story to go with the sign," I pointed out. "That's the point of this exercise. We should study the sign. Focus -- that's what we need."

The sign read:


The Neabsco Mills Ironworks complex, under the ownership of three generations of the Tayloe family, of Richmond County, operated between 1737 and 1828. Located near this site, it was one of the longest continuously operating ironworks in present-day Northern Virginia. The 5,000-acre iron plantation, which was worked by resident free laborers, indentured servants, and slaves, was a multifaceted operation. The workers produced not only pig and bar iron for sale at home and export to Great Britain, but also engaged in shipbuilding, milling, leartherworking, shoe making, and farming. The complex was an important supplier of iron for weaponry during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

"Nope, I got nothin'," Izzy said. "Can I go to the bathroom now?"

"Aw, now, you haven't given it a chance," I said. "What do you think of the connection with our last sign, what with weapons and all."

"All I can think of is running water," he said.

"Hush. Perhaps some wizard started his life working at the ironworks before he goes on to save the world."

"Too much like A Wizard of Earthsea," he suggested. "They spent a lot of time on the ocean in that book, didn't they? Sloshing back and forth between the islands. Slosh, slosh, slosh."

I gave him a look. "Being a blacksmith is not really the same as ironworking, is it?"

"Waterfalls and raindrops," Izzy said.

"Why would an ironworks get into shipbuilding, do you think?" I asked.

"Why would a company that makes diabetic accessories also make doggie clothes?" he replied with a shrug. "Drip drip drip."

"And why aren't there any good Revolutionary War books?"

"Sssssssssssssssssssssssss," said Izzy, mimicking the sound of running water. "All right, all right!" I said. "Go to the bathroom already."

He ran off to the restroom; I followed more slowly. I found him staring at the door. His mouth was slightly ajar.

"'Out of Order'," he read.

"Probably a broken pipe," I said. Izzy groaned. "Maybe it rusted through. Too bad there's not an ironworks around here."

And I ran to the car just ahead of Izzy's strangling hands.

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